XXX

Sleep never did come for Ichigo that night; instead he spent it in an almost unbearable heat, the memory of Grimmjow's touch never leaving his skin.

When morning did finally come, he left his room with a heavy heart, extreme bed head and bloodshot eyes.

"Mornin'," Grimmjow said casually, walking past him as he struggled to get through the door.

Ichigo forced himself not to jump-as hard as it was, and merely nodded, straightening. "Morning."

"You ready to go to Hueco Mundo?" Grimmjow cocked his head, grinning.

Scowling, Ichigo went on ahead. Grimmjow could most certainly guess how he was feeling, but he wasn't going to let him bother him any further. "Let's just go."

XXX

On a hill, overlooking the endless walkways of the Seireitei, Mayuri Kurotsuchi stood with his lieutenant Nemu Kurotsuchi, a Garganta stretching across the clear sky.

"Hurry it up Kurosaki," the painted man urged him. "Or do you intend to make me stand here all day?"

Ichigo gave a wry smile to the man, glancing around at the gathered captains and lieutenants. "You guys all came to see me off?"

"Nah, we just like the view here," Shinji replied, scratching his blond head.

"We could hardly let you go without first equipping you with some things first," Captain Jūshirō Ukitake told him gently, smiling as he approached. Jūshirō had been relieved to say the least when he was told that Ichigo held no bad feelings against him for the deception in relation to the substitute soul reaper badge. When he had asked Rukia why that was, she told him Ichigo had only said that it was because he was smarter than Ichigo, therefore, if he had wanted to deceive him properly he could have done so. He had laughed at that. Ichigo was quite a strange boy, so completely unorthodox and never predictable but he had a firmness for what he believed in and that fire made watching him so exhilarating. Two sandy coloured cloaks sat in his hands and Ichigo recognised them as the ones worn by Renji and Rukia when they had followed him into Hueco Mundo… the ones given to them by Byakuya. Ichigo took them, a small grin lighting his face before he looked back up, letting his eyes once again fall on the faces of each of his friends. "The way you guys are acting, you'd think I was going to die in there. Don't worry, I'll find them-all of them, and I'll come back." "Hold on Kurosaki," Mayuri called out, throwing a small black device his way. "Keep in contact. It would be nice to know where the samples are." "And so we know how to find you if you get in trouble," Toshiro Hitsugaya, the captain of squad ten attempted to reassure him, his voice cool. "I won't get in trouble Toshiro," Ichigo told him. Toshiro didn't bother to correct him; no-one did any more. He had gained the right to call them without any honorifics. He was their friend. "Don't forget to leave some guys for me," Kenpachi added, hand almost unconsciously reaching for his sword. "You can't have all the fun." "We will send help as soon as we can," the Head Captain rumbled, ending the exchange. "In the meantime Ichigo, Arrancar, keep safe." Grimmjow growled, "I don't need you to fuckin' tell me that." Ichigo just grinned, putting on the cloak. "We will, see you soon." And with that, they left, leaving an uncomfortable feeling behind. "I don't like this," Rangiku, Captain Hitsugaya's rather buxom lieutenant murmured. "Yeah, something feels wrong," Ikkaku, the third seat in Captain Zaraki's squad put in, rubbing his bald head. "Nothing feels right to you," Yumichika told him, crossing his arms and raising his noise a little at his superior. "Kurosaki will be fine," Mayuri snapped. "Stop all your fussing. Has he failed us yet?" There was silence for two reasons really. Firstly, the sentence that Mayuri had spoken was as close to praise as any of them had ever heard and secondly, he was right, Ichigo hadn't failed them before. XXX Grimmjow growled as he tightened the cloak around him. He hardly need it, but Ichigo had insisted. "How the fuck do you think you're going to find this little soul reaper?" Grimmjow demanded, finally giving up and shaking the cloak neck furiously before letting it settle. Ichigo glanced at him, mildly amused before he turned back to the endless sands of Hueco Mundo. "You know, you didn't have to come if you didn't want to." "Oh believe me, I fuckin' want to." "Fine," he replied before quietening. "So… how are you going to fuckin' find her?" "Her soul ribbon," Ichigo snapped back, eyebrows furrowing at the interruption. "And if you were being quiet it wouldn't be so hard." Seconds later, Ichigo found it, grabbing it from the air, excited. "Gotcha'," he exclaimed, sprinting off with Grimmjow in tow. XXX Blue depths stared back at him, simmering with undaunted lust. "Ichigo," the name was chuckled out. He was laughing, laughing at his poor attempt to escape, poor attempt to release himself from the man's clutches. Grimmjow crawled on all fours over to him until they were face to face. It was then he leaned down to lick Ichigo's collar bone, showing through his V-neck shirt. Ichigo let out a strange sound-a mixture of a whine and a moan, pressing helplessly against Grimmjow's head. Grimmjow only laughed again, tongue trailing cruel, sizzling lines along up and down his chest before slipping into his ear. Shuddering, Ichigo flinched away, only to have his ear pulled at with sharp teeth in response. "Grimmjow… stop it," Ichigo told him weakly, fighting the urge to let it go any further. Grimmjow claimed his mouth, allowing no room for talking while he let a hand slip under the tight tee-shirt and the other fluttered lightly over his ever increasing erection. Ichigo grabbed handfuls of hair as Grimmjow rolled a nipple in between his fingers, making him give a small gasp. "Grimmjow…" Ichigo moaned out, legs hooking around Grimmjow's waist so he could press himself against him. "Grimm…" "Ichigo," he murmured back, voice in his ear, soft and gentle, loving and possessive. "Ichigo… Ichigo!" Ichigo's eyes flashed open, the night sky winking at him. He gasped for breath, turning on his side, only to find that Grimmjow was there, head in his hand, propped up on his elbow. "I was calling you," he said, obviously amused. Ichigo blushed, hoping that he hadn't been moaning aloud-or worse, saying his name. He scowled to hide his embarrassment. "What the hell for?" "It's your turn for watch," he replied before resting his head on the small roll out mat they had brought along and pulling the cotton blanket up around his shoulders. Ichigo took a deep breath, standing cautiously, hoping that the dark would hide the tent in his shihakusho and walked over to the small rock they had designated as their watch post. They had only decided to sleep because they had been walking for hours and still hadn't caught up with them. Grimmjow had told him that there were quite a few soul reapers there-he didn't know the exact number, but he could tell there were a lot and it seemed they were moving. Toward what, they didn't know. "How was your sleep?" Grimmjow asked from his bed, smirking Ichigo's way. Grimmjow probably knew already… Ichigo narrowed his eyes, glaring back at the Arrancar. "I can tell you, it was a lot better than what yours will be like if you keep it up." "Keep what up?" he enquired innocently. "Just go to sleep."